Rizla Suzuki team manager Jack Valentine believes star rider Tom Sykes should stay in BSB next season, unless he gets the chance to ride for a top World Superbike team.

At a time when Britain is desperately in need of its next WSBK star, Sykes grabbed the attention of the world championship teams with a highly impressive debut as a wild-card at Brands Hatch.

The 22-year-old Englishman qualified his 'overweight' BSB-spec GSX-R1000 in sixth position, then rode an overheating bike up to third place in race one before it finally expired.

Lacking the data gained from a full race distance, Sykes still ran as high as fourth in race two before slipping to seventh in the closing stages - albeit less than three-seconds behind fourth placed Max Neukirchner of the official Alstare Suzuki WSBK team.

"It was a real good weekend for the team," Valentine told Crash.net Radio. "Rizla Suzuki has proven it can run at world level and Tom has proved he can run at world level. We were running our bike in BSB spec, which is 5 kg over the minimum [WSBK] weight limit, so we've done a terrific job.

"The first race was very, very disappointing because I think we could have had a podium. On the first lap Tom was closing Biaggi down and Biaggi ran off the track and sent some stones up onto Tom's machine. Unfortunately one of them smashed a hole in the front mudguard and then ricocheted into the radiator.

"He hung in there until obviously the water went and then that was it, but in the meantime - with a slowing bike - he still passed Corser [for third]. So we were looking forward to a possible podium there.

"But I think he made up for it in the second race. He ran up front as high as [fourth] and set the fastest lap of the race at one point. Towards the end, as the tyres went off, I think he probably played it a bit cautious and brought it home. It's better to be seventh than in the dirt somewhere."

Just two weeks before Brands Hatch, Sykes had taken his first BSB race victories with a perfect double win at Oulton Park, propelling the fast-improving young Englishman up to third in the British Championship standings.

So is Rizla Suzuki now in danger of losing its star rider to the world championship paddock?

"I hope not," Valentine replied. "Me and Tom have spoken. He's very happy with the Rizla Suzuki team, what we've achieved with him and what we've given him on the technical side. It's okay being a top rider, but to be successful you also need to have a top team around you. So it's no good just moving from BSB to a lesser quality team in World Superbike.

"For sure, if he went to one of the very, very top teams then yes, he's going to be in with a chance, but I think just to move to World Superbike for the sake of it would be the wrong thing," Valentine explained.

Of more immediate interest to Sykes and Rizla Suzuki is the possibility of a further World Superbike entry in September's Donington Park round.

"We're not planning to [race at Donington], we only had enough budget to do this round," Valentine stated. "Who knows, if some more budget comes forward and we can fit it in then I'm sure the whole team would like to do it - and particularly Tom. We'll just have to watch this space on that one."

Sykes will be back in BSB action at Knockhill this weekend.


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